Last year, advertising companies got seriously worried when Apple introduced privacy measures for the iPhone, jeopardizing digital advertising. Google soon began developing similar privacy measures. But less than a year later, another type of internet tracking emerged that inadvertently reinforced the power of some of the biggest tech titans.
For years, digital businesses have relied on so-called “third-party” tracking. Companies like Facebook and Google have deployed technology to track people wherever they are online. If someone viewed Instagram and then viewed an online shoe store, marketers could use this information to target shoe ads and make a profit.
As reported by The New York Times, now the advertising business has moved to the so-called “first party” tracking. Even if users do not move from application to application or from site to site, companies still collect information about Internet activity, with the consent of users. This type of tracking, which companies have been practicing for years, is gaining momentum.
Google accumulates data on the search queries of its own users, location data and contact information. Pinterest does the same with its users on its website and in the app, while TikTok collects information about people who are in its program. Small brands are forced to turn to these platforms if they want to advertise and find new customers.
Some technology companies have stated that they do not consider monitoring, collecting and storing data about their users to be tracking. According to them, collecting such first-hand information is the digital equivalent of how a supermarket monitors shoppers in its store and uses this data to convince companies to advertise or offer coupons.
Meta has hired hundreds of engineers to work on new ad targeting systems that don’t rely on tracking people online. The company also asked small businesses to share information about their customers with it in order to increase the effectiveness of their advertising.
Other tech giants with first-hand information are benefiting from these changes. Amazon, for example, has a lot of data about its customers, including what they buy, where they live and what movies or TV shows they watch.